Supported Headstand (Salamba Sirsasana)

IN THIS POSE: Gravity is working to increase blood flow throughout the body as well as draining the lymphatic system. This pose also helps to strengthen the core and triceps.

Parts of the body to focus on as you practice this pose: 

  • NeckWhile doing this pose you want to make sure to not apply pressure to your neck, you should not be feeling any pain or tension. This is where the support from the hands and arms comes in; cup your hands around the back of your head for support, keeping your forearms resting firmly on the ground. Your weight should mainly be resting on your arms; at no point should the weight of your body be resting on your neck or spine, as this can result in pain or injury.
  • Triceps – In this pose, the triceps are mainly used to stabilize oneself, and as a means of control as you transition from the ground into the air. Along with the core, the triceps are also used to maintain balance and prevent oneself from falling backwards.
  • Core – The core is very much at work in this pose, the stronger your core is the easier it will be to stay balanced while in the air.
  • Spine – The spine is what controls the alignment in this pose. When the spine is kept vertically aligned, it will prevent one from falling while in the air.
  • Hamstrings and Glutes – The hamstrings and glutes are also at work when one is transitioning from the ground into the air. They are also at work when one is adjusting their legs in order to become in alignment with the spine as a means of balance.

The goal is to eventually be able to lift yourself up into this pose without jumping, by walking your legs up towards your torso and extending them up slowly.

If you are just starting out, it would be helpful to place a pillow or something soft on the ground behind you as you lift yourself up into this pose as a precaution in case you fall backwards.

It would also help to have someone else present to assist in lifting you up, and to be there to hold your legs in the air in case you lose your balance.

It is okay to jump off of the ground in order to extend your legs into the air, but it would be beneficial to work towards walking your legs up towards your torso and slowly lifting them up into a bent position before extension, as well as bringing them down slowly when coming out of the pose instead of allowing them to drop down abruptly.

Don’t forget to breathe and release tension through each step.

It is important though to not push oneself too far, as this can result in an injury such as compression. Only ever go as far as is comfortable for you, you should not feel any pain when doing these poses.  

And as always, try not to make perfection the enemy of progress.

Standing Forward Bend (Uttanasana)

During these chaotic and unpredictable times occurring in our world right now, it would be beneficial for anyone to have some kind of practice or routine to ground oneself, instead of allowing oneself to gravitate towards and feed into fear and negativity.

Every individual has the power to make a difference in this world simply by living from a state of higher consciousness, and being a conduit for peace, love, and positivity for all of humanity. We all have the choice of whether we want to bring healing or suffering into this world, but in order to radiate positive, loving, and healing energy towards others, we must first love and heal ourselves.

Yoga is a simple and efficient grounding technique that has been around for ages.

I do a series of simple stretches every night before I go to sleep to ground and align myself, and because it helps me to release any tension being held in my physical body.  One of my favorite poses that I do every night is Standing Forward Bend, as well as West Stretch Pose (or what some would call Seated Forward Bend) which has made doing a full Standing Forward Bend much easier for me.

STRETCHES: Hamstrings, Spine, Calves, and Glutes

WEST STRETCH POSE (Paschimottanasana): West Stretch Pose is basically the same pose as Standing Forward Bend, except one is sitting down, so gravity is not the main focus as it is in Standing Forward Bend. Practicing this pose every night will help to stretch out one’s hamstrings and glutes, which can often be a tight area for most people. Stretching these areas will also help to make it easier and work towards doing a full Standing Forward Bend.

STANDING FORWARD BEND: Like most poses, Standing Forward Bend has variations so anyone can practice this pose and receive the benefits. With daily practice, one can eventually master doing a full Standing Forward Bend, which is not always an easy pose to do for people who are just starting out.

But mastering a pose is not the goal here, the goal is to feel good and take care of one’s body. Mastering of poses is just something that you obtain through the process.

In Standing Forward Bend, gravity is doing most of the work; lengthening and releasing tension in one’s neck and spine while simultaneously stretching the glutes, calves, and hamstrings. Although you probably most often see people in this pose with their hands on the ground or pressed against the calves with their legs straightened, there are also variations where the legs are bent, or where one just allows their head, torso, and arms to hang down while  extending their spine and keeping their legs straight.

Continue reading Standing Forward Bend (Uttanasana)

Head to Knee Pose (Janu Sirsasana)

STRETCHES: calves, hamstrings, & back

INSTRUCTIONS: Fully extend one leg, keeping your toes pointed upward. Fold the opposite leg, keeping your foot tucked into your groin area. Lean forward and reach towards the foot of your extended leg, grabbing hold of the foot or interlacing your fingers around the foot, lengthening your spine as you rest your torso on the extended leg. You can gently pull the foot of the extended leg to further stretch your calf and hamstring muscles, but be sure to only go as far as you feel comfortable, as pushing yourself to the point of discomfort can result in an injury; such as a pulled muscle. Hold this pose for as long as you feel comfortable, then repeat on the opposite side.  

Don’t forget to incorporate deep breathing as you practice each pose! You can alternate inhalations and exhalations for each step of the pose in whichever order you prefer, but it is important to focus on your breathing as you go through each step.